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Khoo Kongsi, Penang Overview

Khoo Kongsi, also known as Leong San Tong Khoo Kongsi is one of the largest clan temple-cum-house of the Hokkien clan. A major attraction in the city, the clan temple complex sits in a granite paved square housing 19th-century rowhouse, a traditional theatre and an authentic association building.

Although the grand, heavenly Khoo Kongsi clan house had been reduced to ruins and had to be built all over again, this newer version is just as lavish as the original structure, and its beauty continues to mesmerize visitors from all over the world. The highly ornamental sculptures and carvings on the walls of the temple is truly an architectural wonder. To add to the grandeur of the surroundings, the historic Chinese Opera is conducted annually, with utmost precision during the Chinese New Year.

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Highlights and Attractions at Khoo Kongsi

  • Right in front of the clan house-cum-temple, there is a huge courtyard which consists of the houses and cottages of the former clan members, which has now been turned into an exhibit displaying the various utensils they used, the types of clothes they used to wear and the cots on which they use to sleep.
Khoo Kongsi Penang
Khoo Kongsi showcasing the ways in which the Hokkien clan used to lead their daily lives (Source)

  • Not far away from the courtyard lies the art gallery with an attached souvenir shop. The art gallery allows visitors to learn more about the traditional Thai and Malay art forms and the materials used to create them. Starting from organic paints made by crushing out flower petals and fruit pulps to the modern abstract and minimalistic art forms, this art gallery has an unimaginable collection of portraits, murals and handicrafts made by the Hokkien clan.
  • Behind the main temple lies the museum which has murals and tapestries hung all over the walls depicting the history of Penang’s Chinese community and about the history of Khoo Kongsi. There are numerous statues of Sikh, Thai and Malay soldiers placed at intervals throughout the temple and clan house area.
Khoo Kongsi Penang
The incredibly elaborate interior of the main Khoo Kongsi shrine (Source)

Historical Significance

In the early eighteenth century, the Khoo clans men from China started migrating into the South-East Asian countries with Malaysia being the hub. Soon after, it became the largest clan to be established in Penang. They needed a ‘clan house’ to reunite the clans men as well as a place where they could pay respect to their ancestors.

About half a decade later, the site at which Leong San Tong Khoo Kongsi was erected was officially converted into a clan house. However, a mysterious fire burned down the entire structure which is rumored to be due to the wrath of Chinese gods due to the uncanny resemblance of Khoo Kongsi to the Emperor’s Palace.

How to Reach Khoo Kongsi

Taxi: Taking a cab is the most convenient means to reach Khoo Kongsi and takes about half an hour from any point around the city center.

Bus: One can also opt to take a public transit bus. The Rapid Penang Bus 401 drops off to the bus stand closest to Khoo Kongsi from where one can take a trishaw or taxi to the main entrance of this clan house.

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